Is Microsoft’s Surface Tablet A MacBook Air And iPad Killer?

In a very lengthy, yet compelling read, Gizmodo produced an article that essentially applauds the new Microsoft Surface tablet and welcomes it as a game changer that makes the Air and iPad look obsolete in comparison. The article goes on to state that the system follows the ten design principles that folks like Apple’s Jonathan Ive seem to live by.

Summarizing the article’s key points, the Gizmodo article points out that the Surface isn’t quite like anything on the market right now and has the ability to potentially do everything that an iPad and Air can do right now- but without the need for two devices. The Surface seems to provide a very sleek looking package that is durable, sounds easy enough to use and yet follows a somewhat minimalistic approach.

According to the article, the iPad is essentially just a very modern evolution of the older Apple Newton tablet/PDAs and the Air is the modern evolution of the laptop, but the Surface is something that is a true evolution.

While the Gizmodo piece primarily focuses on the hype that surrounds the new Microsoft tablet, the author also indicates that unknown elements like battery life and price could make all the difference. If they manage to have good battery life and great pricing, I agree, the Surface could be an important way for Microsoft to better compete against Apple products like the MacBook Air and iPad. Is this an iPad killer? I honestly have some very serious doubts about that, but it could certainly be an important alternative that could gain a fair amount of popularity if the execution is right.

From the sounds of it, Surface will have several variants such as a Intel/Win8 model and an ARM/WinRT model. For those that don’t know, the upcoming Metro-based Windows 8 is the Intel-designed version of the OS, while RT is specifically built around ARM processors. Beyond an ARM and Intel version, there are also two versions of the keyboard/cover, one having touch buttons and the other being a physical lightweight keyboard. You can also likely expect some versions will support 3G/4G technology and some will be WiFi only- though MS has yet to tell us much about its connectivity options in that regard.

There are a TON of variables involved in the Surface, and we don’t really have enough solid details to really make any true predictions about how well it will do. I have a feeling that Windows 8 and RT will quickly leverage the Windows OS developer community resources to through together tons of great apps, so I’m not worried as much about the OS side of things, or at least not that worried. What I’m more curious about is how well the hardware will stand up and how well pricing will compete. In order to get a MacBook Air and iPad replacement are you going to have to pay $1500 to get mobile broadband, a physical keyboard and a more powerful Intel processor? If so, the appeal of the Surface certainly goes down. If you can get a netbook/ultrabook/tablet replacement out of the Surface for $800-$1000? Then it certainly looks like a very interesting choice, and an attractive one at that. Either way, late-2012 seems to be the beginning of a whole new chapter in the mobile device wars.

Personally, I look forward to the Microsoft Surface, even if I’m still not 100% sure what to think about it.

What do you think about the Surface so far? An Apple killer or just another tablet that will quickly have its hype die down over the next few months?

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7 Comments

  1. RBlakely says:

    This will be another Kindle or Android tablet. Apple clearly has the upper hand because of the app store. Will Microsoft do something to compete? Well, they have the money, but is the developer base there? Look at the headstart Apple has on the rest of the market. THAT is what gives them superiority.

    In addition to the software issue, I think there will be a hardware issue. I think MS will try to build so many different Surfaces to please everyone that they will please NO ONE in the end. I believe MS will have too many SKU’s to handle and will not be able to keep the most popular ones stocked and then demand will drastically fall. And what happens when that oh-so-perfect keyboard doesn’t work? Or when you spill your Starbucks on it and it smokes? Just go buy a replacement? Or NOT?
    I would NEVER trade my Air or my iPad for this thing. I was a huge Windows supporter until I got my Air. The way OSX works is so freaking sweet I never want to touch another Windows product. No, Microsoft, you came to this party way too late. Go dance with my ugly sister. She’ll take you on the floor.

  2. Russ Petersen says:

    I’m considering a 13″ Macbook air to replace my current 15″ Macbook pro this fall. However, if, like you say, it was a fully featured win8 laptop that also could be a tablet for 1k or less then I would have to at least consider it… I’d really miss my Unix-based MacOs but the combo of tablet/PC is really compelling if its done right.

  3. Microsoft has been copying Apple since the mid-80s. They have been getting closer all the time but have never learned to pay as much attention to detail and the real needs of users.

    This device sounds like the best yet and I sincerely hope it is all that it seems. Personally, other than the touchscreen ability, I have never understood the need for an iPad. A non-Apple lightweight laptop is much more capable and cheaper, too. There are the quality issues, of course, but there are good windows alternatives available.

    I have an elderly Apple Powerbook that I use for travel and eBooks.. It works perfectly and , other than the weight, it is at least as useful as the newest laptops I can buy. I would change to something newer and lighter if the price was right and the quality was there.

  4. Um, it’s spelled “Gizmodo” not “Gizmondo”.

  5. TechTiger says:

    It always seemed to me that Apple purposefully dumbed down the i-Pad to maintain demand for their laptops. The Surface appears to have seized upon the frustration of many of us who love the i-Pad but have been exasperated with its quirky and not understandable deficiencies in simple but key areas. While I would prefer Apple to properly address these issues, I will be more than happy to switch over to Microsoft if they have done the job well.

  6. Not sure if it will kill the ipad. But it will compete with it’s new features. No other tablet has been even close. I have to admit, MS had me at Magnetic Keyboard that doubles as the cover. BRILLIANT!!!!

  7. Wyendor says:

    I agree- it all depends on pricing. At $1000, the Pro with the real keyboard beats a MacBook Air + iPad combo. At $1500, you’d have to convince yourself that it’s better than a MacBook Pro. If it all works as advertised, and is under $1000, I’m selling my iPad and old laptop and buying this.

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